The Summer of Reality

This story was part of the collection of writing samples I submitted for the Creative Writing Scholarship contest at Arkansas Tech University in Spring 1999. I placed 4th, so I was pretty excited about that. The scholarship paid for my books for my first year in college. 

The Summer of Reality, 1999

The last day that I was ever fifteen, I went to the mall with my Mom, my aunt Carrie, and my best friend Melanie.

Earlier that morning, I mailed a letter that could change my whole life if the receiver decided to at least humor me. During the previous school year, I had developed a crush on a new boy named Mike. He was everything  I wanted and so wrong for me. He seemed like the perfect guy, except for the fact that he was nervous and tongue-tied around me, which did not help in our getting to know each other.

The mall seemed better than usual, or maybe it was just my birthday money burning a hole in my pocket.

“So what are you planning to do this summer?” Melanie asked me to take my mind off of the slow restaurant workers. “You never did tell me where you’re going for vacation.”

“We’re not sure yet, but I think we’re going to Alabama, Mississippi, and possibly Florida,” I told her, wishing that our conversation could switch to serious matters such as the letter to Mike.

“Maybe you’ll get to see the ocean,” she said. She smiled. “Or maybe you could even see a lighthouse. Then it would all be worth it.” She knew my fascination with lighthouses and old ships, among other things.

I decided it was up to me to change the subject. “Do you think Mike will answer my letter? Tell me the truth, do you think he’ll even read it?” I asked desperately.

She hesitated, but then answered. “Honestly, Pearl, I think he’ll read it, but he would never in a million years answer it. He’s got this chip on his shoulder put there by the morons he hangs out with, you know that as well as I do,” she said sympathetically. “You deserve better.”

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My love history and why I never wrote about my husband until now

Let me warn you: This post is long.

Something my husband and I talked about before he helped me launch this website was the fact that I wrote a lot of material about someone I loved before I met him. I was worried that what I wrote a long time ago would hurt my husband, something I would never do intentionally. Now my husband, Jonathan, is very blunt, as anyone who knows him will tell you. He told me specifically that he is not threatened by my past because it made me who I am—the woman he loves. We talked about my past and his while we were getting to know each other.

So, how did we meet? Jonathan was working as a night building manager at Arkansas Tech in the Student Services Center. I was a student working on a practicum during the summer. Just to clear up any ethical issues: I was a graduate student, 22 years old, almost 23, and Jonathan was 25. He was not my supervisor. I’ll admit, I thought he was cute when I first saw him, but given my track record and a recent broken relationship that ended a friendship, (another story—see below) I figured Jonathan was taken. Well, he wasn’t.

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Explanation

Poetry at 16. Fairly self-explanatory.

“Explanation” 9-5-97

You live inside my head, causing me much pain and sorrow.

Sometimes I wish you were dead, so I could just get through tomorrow.

When you speak to me, my heart beats so fast.

You make all my thoughts free, and everything done in the past.

People ask me: “How can you say, you love a person before you know him?”

And I answer: “The very same way, you can hate a person before you know them.”

What I fear the most I know is true, the person who lives inside my head just isn’t you.